Apply for freelance work using these techniques

Working in a full-time position means you may apply for a job once every few years. Freelancers, on the other hand, could be responding to job boards and advertisements virtually every week. Use these strategies to become a successful and busy freelancer.

  • Read the job description – To get freelance work you must do what the potential client asks! Read the advertised job description carefully and supply the information requested – no less, no more. Appealing, well-paid freelance projects (ie: the kind you want) can draw thousands of good quality candidates, so competition is stiff and the first applications to be discarded are those that don’t do what’s required. After all, if you can’t get that right, how will you successfully handle a complex brief?
  • Personalise your response – A standard one-size-fits-all application shows the client you can’t be bothered going to the extra effort to tailor your response, or that you couldn’t care less if you get the work or not. Whichever it is, you’re not doing your personal brand any favours and neither are you going to be offered the job. A standardised response is really little better than those irksome junk e-mails offering everything from Viagra to dubious lottery wins.
  • Establish your credentials – To apply for freelance work you must be able to show what you can do, rather than where you studied or what societies you belong to. Build up a portfolio of work that you can attach to your applications (if asked) and also have hard copies available to take to meetings. Better still, create a good, professional-looking website that shows off all of your best work.
  • Talk about your work before you talk about your rates – In daily life, if you meet someone for the first time it’s regarded is impolite to immediately start talking about how much you’re paid, or your overall net worth. It’s far more polite to first establish your credentials and general standing in the community before you move onto delicate topics like finance. As a freelancer you first want to impress the potential customer with your skills and experience. If she can see your work is good, she’s more likely to meet your price. But presenting an up-front rate that seems too high may scare the client off before she even gets to look at your portfolio!
  • Don’t gush – To get freelance work you don’t need to wax lyrical about your own work or gush about the client company and how much you ‘admire it’ and have been hoping for years to ‘get a foot in the door’. Reputable organisations and experienced hirers of freelance talent are generally more interested in substance than flattery and have finely-tuned ‘nonsense detectors’ (to put it politely). Leave the smooth talk for the local singles bar on a Friday night.
  • Know your limits – There’s nothing wrong with aiming high, but you also have to be realistic when you apply for a freelance project. If the deadline’s in seven days time and you’re going to be flat out for the next six, don’t bank on being able to satisfactorily complete the project in a single day, or on persuading the client to give you a last-minute extension. Similarly, if the job board says ‘heavyweight art director’, you’re wasting everyone’s time if you’re only a year out of art school. Even if you land the project by virtue of a miracle, it’s likely you’ll make a mess of it and forever damage your credibility – not just with that employer but others within his network too. Just like gossip, news of unsatisfactory work spreads faster than talk of work well done.